Yakuza 5 Original Soundtrack Vol. 2
Yakuza 5 Original Soundtrack Vol. 2 (Ryu ga Gotoku 5 Yume, Kanaeshi Mono Original Soundtrack Vol. 2)
December 19, 2012
Buy at iTunes
Yakuza 5 Original Soundtrack Vol. 2 (or Ryu ga Gotoku 5 Yume, Kanaeshi Mono Original Soundtrack Vol. 2 in Japan) is the second of a two-volume soundtrack released digitally for Yakuza 5. As per the usual, it features compositions by a large number of Sega artists, and for the most part keeps with the style of the Yakuza series in terms of music. As with Yakuza 4’s soundtrack release, this second volume includes mostly lighter tracks like the club tracks and vocal tracks, though for Yakuza 5 this means that many of the story-relevant tracks are also included here. Although its marking as one volume may lead listeners to think of it as one disc of music, it actually clocks in at over two and a half hours worth of material.
The album begins with “The Opening of the Princess League”, an instrumental track that doesn’t really have a lot to grab our attention. It has two distinct segments: one being a rather bland electronic backing; the other having more rock elements, though overall it is overlong and a bit too bland. However, it paves the way to the Princess League vocal themes which follow, of which two versions exist for each: Haruka and T-SET versions, switching up just the vocals. This might be blasphemous to say, but I enjoyed the T-SET versions much better, as the vocals are less cutesy and more strong. As for the songs themselves, they are all by-the-books generic J-pop, which will please some but not do much for others. “KONNAN Jyanai!” is the upbeat and bouncy number, and probably the most catchy of the tracks. Given its heavier exposure in the game, it seems probable that it will worm its way into any player’s head. “loneliness loop” is a bit more serious in tone while “Kimi wa Iru Kara” is a lighter, hopeful sounding track with uplifting strings throughout. All fine, but nothing special here. There is a notable exclusion of “Dream”, the power ballad track from the game, but I personally found it overly cheesy and weaker than the other tracks anyways, so it’s no big loss.
Also from the story are the five street dance tracks. They are more or less all at game length, with the exception of “Be the Star!!”, a funky pop track with a lot of attitude and a great arrangement mixing brass and dance elements in a throwback style. Here it has been extended to include a couple of instrumental solos that are all pretty nice. It’s easily the best of the five tracks, though the poorly pronounced English lyrics mar the track just a bit. The others are mostly electronic in style. “Comin’at ya, My girl” has a solid backing but is otherwise unimpressive and not very strong. “Joy to the Dance” starts leaning to Euro styles, but the lighter vocals are again a bit weak and the rest is fairly generic. “Couleur d’une jeune fille” is actually in French, and is one of the better tracks though still not particularly innovative. “Like an Arabesque” is much better, with properly pronounced lyrics, a solid vocalist, and an easy catchiness to it. Basic pop all around, but some tracks manage to be pretty enjoyable as far as pop goes.
The remaining prominent vocal tracks are the karaoke tracks. Only three new karaoke tracks are included here, each with two versions changing just the vocalists. “ring” is another straightforward bright J-Pop track, and both vocalists fare well enough. The track is pretty catchy, and the arrangement is not overly tacky. The more upbeat “Rouge of Love” has more edge, and here Kaguya has the upper hand on the vocal, sounding more clear and confident. But the main draw here is “Baka Mitai”, another throwback to older J-Pop days in the same vein as “Kamurochou Love Song” from Yakuza 4. Cheesy, but the voice actors for Saejima and Akiyama really sell it, the latter in particular being a perfect fit for the song. It also has a great melody at the chorus, and I find myself enjoying it way more than I should. There is also a jazz instrumental version of the track that is also very enjoyable, and it’s great that it doesn’t follow the original too closely, allowing the small jazz ensemble to make it its own, playing around with the structure and melody to keep it fresh.
The album also includes the bar and club tracks along with other area themes, and I find these fare better than previous games’ similar tracks. “La Seine”, “Club EDEN” and “ELISE” are not as impressive and a bit throwaway, but the smoky and bass-heavy “Rose hip” is pretty great with a more unique, hazy sound palette, while “PRIME – LOVE GAME” is a more fierce pop track that overcomes its pronunciation issues and cheesiness and with a full commitment to the sound, making its ridiculousness hard to resist. There also a number of heavy jazz tracks, full-length with a good amount of improv that all sound great. “Bar Crest -Rainy-” and “Silky Night” are quieter tracks for the end of a night. The latter especially has a great crooning saxophone lead, and both have good piano support. “Sleepy Eyes” pulls in a bit of bossa influence, while “Quiet Night” is more upbeat and a lot of fun. “highway” is more relaxed thanks to the electric piano at its centre, smoothing out the sound of the track. All very enjoyable stuff here with pleasing atmospheres.
A number of tracks are electronic ones. There are great fun tracks like “ENORMOUS GUN SALUTES” that would not have felt out of place on the first volume of the soundtrack, which more than make up for lack of central melody with an energetic and quick-moving atmosphere. There’s the darker drum-n-bass-leaning “A BARRAGE”, in contrast to the brighter and hopeful “BOXCELIOS FOREVER”, but both of which are quite fun. “HOSTILE GAZE” is a bit more exotic with percussion, and I like the progressive addition of elements throughout. “ARROW OF INDRA” and “Setsujou no Kakutogi” have many rock elements for a grittier sound, though they aren’t as catchy as others. “Mensho Ryuya” is rather fun with a cheeky oriental influence, while “TRUE VALHALLA” is an interesting track and is the only atmospheric and mellow track of the bunch. It shares many similarities to the series’ title BGM tracks, though it’s a bit more creepy with some glitchiness. The latter half is quite good, especially with the acoustic guitar addition and the effects placed on it. There are some duds like the generic “All Clear Results” and the overly cheesy “Puri Circle”, but even they aren’t so bad.
The remaining tracks are acoustic in nature, or emulate it. “Cochin’s Cup Classic” is a folk rendition of the classic William Tell overture, and while its fun being over-the-top, I don’t particularly like to listen to it. Better is the western “Bad news is coming” with a stomping beat and plenty of swagger from the guitars. “Irikunda Jijou” has an ominous atmosphere with guitar and piano and a bit of electronic help. I like its melody, and it moves well too. Then there is “THE DELUGE” which is largely a sinister orchestral track with modern percussion and a great atmosphere. “heart warming stories” is a pleasant but very safe piano solo track, while the guitar-only track “The song of friendship” is much more moving, and is more melodic as well. This track in particular feels great both in the context of the game as well as outside of it, capturing the more personal elements of the Yakuza series.
Yakuza 5 Original Soundtrack Vol. 2 is a very solid collection of music, though its wide range of styles means that many tracks are likely to be hit-or-miss with listeners. There are plenty of vocal pop tracks here, but mostly they fall into standard J-pop categories with nothing particularly special about them, aside from a few catchy melodies. The instrumentals include some great relaxing lounge tracks, strong electronic tracks, and a handful of pleasant acoustic ones as well. Overall, its much more solid than the second volume soundtrack for Yakuza 4, being more consistent in quality throughout. It has a good price given the amount of music it contains, so it wouldn’t hurt for fans of the game to check it out.
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Posted on July 6, 2016 by Christopher Huynh. Last modified on July 6, 2016.